The prosecution rests with the Harvey Weinstein trial in Los Angeles


After a month of harrowing testimony from women who say they were raped by the most powerful man in Hollywood, Los Angeles prosecutors on Thursday declared their case against Harvey Weinstein well founded.

Weinstein, 70, sat stoically in a courtroom in downtown Los Angeles as a group of eight former models and actors cried, screamed and cursed at times as they described brutal assaults in hotel rooms in Southern California, London and Puerto Rico.

Many of the women said they felt unable to beat the huge Weinstein at the moment and feared for years to report him to the police because he could end their career with a phone call.

Much of the case revolves around the #MeToo movement, whose nemesis Weinstein became after investigative reports published by the New Yorker and the New York Times in 2017.

Many of Weinstein’s victims did not report to the police until after the movement began, believing that the sheer number of women speaking out would prevent anyone from being shooed away by Weinstein and his army of lawyers and public relations professionals.

But Weinstein’s counsel has tried to portray the timing of the reports as convenient, saying that many of the victims engaged in revisionist histories and now describe rather consensual, “transactional” relationships with Weinstein as rape.

The defense will begin presenting its case on Nov. 28, after a week-long break for Thanksgiving. Attorneys Mark Werksman and Alan Jackson have not said who they intend to call, and it is unclear whether Weinstein will testify.

If Weinstein is convicted of any charges, he faces a de facto life sentence in a California prison, on top of the remaining 20 years of his sentence stemming from a 2020 rape conviction in New York. Weinstein has denied all allegations and is appealing the case in New York.

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Weinstein was originally charged with 11 counts of rape and sexual battery in LA County, but four of those charges were dismissed earlier this week, when Deputy Dist. Attention. Paul Thompson admitted he was “unable to move on” to the allegations of a woman identified only as Jane Doe 5.

Neither Thompson’s nor Weinstein’s lawyers have commented on the case, but sources have told The Times that the woman lives outside the country and could not be forced to testify by the prosecutor’s office.

The prosecution’s case concluded this week with a lot of focus on the intense testimony of Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Before meeting her husband, Governor Gavin Newsom, Siebel Newsom was an aspiring actor in 2005 when Weinstein summoned her to a room at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.

She claimed that what she said was a career-related encounter turned into a violent sexual encounter when Weinstein emerged from a bathroom in a robe touching his penis.

Throughout 45 minutes, she said this week, Weinstein repeatedly told her that a number of A-list actors had sex with him to advance their careers. Siebel Newsom said she cried and begged him to leave her alone, even bringing up her sister’s death at one point.

Eventually, she claimed, he forced himself on her. Unable to escape, Siebel Newsom said she feigned an orgasm and fondled Weinstein’s penis in a desperate attempt to end the attack.

“I just did it to make it stop,” Siebel Newsom said Monday. “I just wanted to get the f— out of there. Excuse my language. I’m sorry, I just wanted to leave.”

The Times does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they name themselves in civil court proceedings or speak out publicly. While the women who testified against Weinstein did so anonymously, Siebel Newsom accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct in a 2017 essay. Others have testified at his trial in New York or accused him of rape at press conferences or in court.

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The last accuser to take the stand against Weinstein was actress and model Natassia Malthe, who described a 2008 attack at a London hotel following the British Academy Film Awards. On Wednesday, Malthe — who publicly accused Weinstein of assault in 2017 with her attorney, Gloria Allred, at her side — spoke for several hours about her disturbing years-long dynamic with the mogul.

The two first met in 2002 in New York, where Malthe claimed Weinstein was lurking at her while she sat next to supermodel Naomi Campbell, but they never actually spoke. Five years later, she said Weinstein approached her during Fashion Week in Manhattan and asked for her hotel room number, but Malthe ignored him.

A year later, at the BAFTA awards, Malthe said she felt like her career was on the rise. She had been chosen to model as the face of a $100 million marketing campaign and thought she was under a microscope during the trip to London. Then Weinstein showed up at her door.

“My publicist taught me that if you’re the face of a brand, your image has to be responsible, you have to be squeaky clean,” she said. “Anything that could ruin my reputation was bad for the brand.”

Fearing Weinstein’s hubbub would draw her unwanted attention, Malthe said she answered the door.

Weinstein told her “no one gets like an A-lister unless it’s because of me,” then pushed her onto the bed and raped her, Malthe claimed. The model said she froze as she thought about how much influence Weinstein could wield in her life after that moment.

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“The asymmetrical power situation was so great. I felt like there was a powerful man who could ruin my career, who held the fate of people’s lives in his hands,” she said. “I weighed 98 pounds at the time because I refused to eat. I only ate vegetables to fit into the clothes I was given. … He was bigger than now … maybe three times as big.”

But Malthe’s testimony also invited the defense to grill her about her decision to stay in touch with Weinstein after the alleged assault, a tactic they’ve used repeatedly against Siebel Newsom and other witnesses.

Malthe said Weinstein later sent her a script for a musical. She attended an audition for the project, entitled “Nine”, which again pulled her into a situation where she was alone with Weinstein and another woman. Malthe said she saw the woman perform oral sex on Weisntein, but declined their offer to have a threesome.

Years later, Malthe said she and Weinstein spoke at the American Film Institute festival in Los Angeles. According to Malthe’s testimony, she confronted him and questioned whether he had seen a therapist, but later said she had also seen him shower naked.

Malthe described the moment as one where she felt Weinstein was “human” and then described another situation where she ended up alone with Weinstein and, she claimed, he started masturbating in front of her after she went to a one-on-one meeting was led. with the mogul.

“This is about the fourth time you’ve been walking with an assistant against your will,” asked an incredulous Werksman. “Have you ever burned your hand by touching a hot stove?”

Times staff writer Michael Finnegan contributed to this report.


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